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Northeast residents worried about livelihood as growth in downtown KCMO continues to boom

Northeast longtime residents concerned as downtown development continues
Posted at 10:16 AM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 11:37:31-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The recent announcement of a potential new ballpark in downtown Kansas City is generating buzz, but a local nonprofit is worried that people who have been living in surrounding neighborhoods for generations will be driven out.

Jordan Schiele cofounded Jerusalem Farm, a nonprofit based in the Northeast. Part of their efforts is to provide home repair assistance to Northeast families in need while preserving the historic neighborhood.

After surveying 600 people living in that neighborhood, the nonprofit found that 68% have struggled to pay their rent or mortgage within the past three years. 35% reported that their housing situation is unaffordable and 30% said they make under $25,000 a year.

“We want to make sure long-term residents that have lived in the city reap the benefits of development downtown,” said Schiele.

Shirley Logan has lived in the Northeast for more than 50 years and has used Jerusalem Farm’s services to make necessary repairs to her home.

Over the past couple of months, Logan has been receiving text messages, letters, phone calls, and visits from investors both in and out of state wanting to purchase her home for cash.

“I tell them, 'Where am I going to live if I sell you my house?' and they said, 'Well, we are from California,' and different states and different places,” said Logan.

Logan isn’t the only one in the neighborhood receiving these messages.

Gerald May has lived in the Northeast neighborhood for 25 years and said he also gets similar requests to sell his home and says the calls started to pour in during the height of the pandemic.

“Daily someone is calling, walking down the block and putting letters in the mailbox,” said May.

KSHB 41 News called some of the numbers left behind by companies. Some numbers were no longer in service and when we did get through we left messages asking for an interview but never heard back.

KSHB 41 News did talk to a real estate agent whose contact information was found on Logan’s phone.

He said that demand for housing continues to go up and supply is limited, which is why there’s interest in talking to homeowners whose homes are not listed. He further explained that offers vary on the condition of the home and some agents check every 30-60 days with homeowners to see if they've changed their minds.

“Talking to them myself, (as well as) neighbors and knowing people who have gone through the process, the offers they offer are below market rate (and) almost predatory,” said Schiele.

Schiele believes investors are zeroing in on the Northeast due to its proximity to downtown so they can cash in on upcoming events like the NFL Draft, World Cup, stadium builds and further development downtown. He adds outside investors are known to rehab homes and turn them for a larger profit which drives up rental and housing costs in the neighborhood.

“We have no issue with mixed-income living, but there (have) to be ways to support the low-income residents,” said Schiele.

Earlier this month, Kansas City approved a resolution that will designate a $50 million bond funding for affordable housing to the Kansas City Housing Trust Fund.

KSHB 41 News also talked to ReeceNichols of Kansas City to understand why the Northeast is seeing an uptick in interest. President and CEO Mike Fraser thinks Kansas City is in a position for growth and even though prices on homes are up, it's still cheaper than what you see on the coast.

“More institutional investors, large real estate investment trusts, large individual investors from both inside the city and outside the city have looked at Kansas City and said that they can buy blocks of homes and rent those ones back because of the demand that exists," said Fraser. "We have become a big target for that."

KSHB 41 News reached out to a city spokesperson for a comment on our report, but didn’t respond.